Way-Nee Dee | Still My Nature

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Still My Nature

by Way-Nee Dee

More Tales of Love from the Great American Songbook
Genre: Easy Listening: Ballads
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Agent Double-O-Soul
2:49 $0.99
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2. Medley Uno: My Funny Valentine / Embraceable You
5:13 $0.99
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3. Wichita Lineman
3:37 $0.99
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4. Medley Dos: You Go to My Head / Serenade in Blue
8:23 $0.99
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5. Open the Door to Your Heart
3:13 $0.99
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6. Sometimes a Man
4:07 $0.99
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7. Medley Tres: As Time Goes By /(At) the End (Of a Rainbow)
4:48 $0.99
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8. None but the Lonely Heart
3:15 $0.99
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9. That's Life
2:33 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
I love singing, it’s my nature. I am told my sound is melodious. I could always carry a tune or melody but I never found an inspired audience among my family or friends. There was no freedom of expression in my childhood home. I used to practice in the basement of my parents’ home, but my mother was always annoyed, and she would say that she was trying to take a nap. Which was ironic since she was a singer herself.

In fact, singing has gotten me through a few tough times and fun times. Growing up my high school buddies and I would harmonize on neighborhood street corners. Then working as busboys and dishwashers in a restaurant, we operated a commercial dishwasher machine made by a company named Hobart. To relieve the stress and boredom of performing mundane labor we would harmonize and sing “doo-wop” songs in the dishwashing area. We called ourselves “The Hobarts”, as we did our own rendition of late 1960 hits by the Temptations hits “Runaway Child” or “I’m Losing You” as we did the Temptations Walk in a circle about the Hobart machine. Sometimes we would do other artists, like the Esquires’ “Get on Up” or Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Your Precious Love” when we took the trash out to the dumpster. A couple of us guys sounded pretty good among the dirty dishes, soapy water and bubbles.

When I went into the military I kept myself amused by singing and laughing through the stress of rigorous training. Sometimes the other soldiers would join in when we were assigned tasks that needed to be completed for an anticipated inspection. In this environment, I learned how to work under stress, and I learned how others worked under stress. Later working for a government agency, I have on occasion volunteered or been asked to sing the national anthem at formal ceremonies. I am thankful for the opportunity, so I do the best job I could do with the voice I had. If you do not know it, I will tell you that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is the only song that if a word or line is missed, everybody in the room knows it. There have been many beautiful renditions by a long list of magnificent vocalists and there have been some renditions that did not meet the patriotic challenge at all.

I wanted to become better at the craft so I enrolled in music academies teaching in operatic style near my military duty stations. My first vocal coach was a male opera singer named Marc Rattray. He helped me create a “drop dead” audition song, “The Twelfth of Never”. It worked. I auditioned and earned a part in a local musical production titled “Five Guys Named Moe”, featuring the early rhythm-and-blues music of Louis Jordan. I knew the name Louis Jordan but not the range of his contribution to music. I marked the date on my calendar and began to prepare myself to perform my audition song. On the day of the audition, I was in Virginia visiting my wife with our children. I promised myself that I would make it back for the audition, and I practiced all the way back driving south on Interstate 95. I dropped my children off at home and took my newly acquired skills to audition for the musical play. I performed the song, thanked the folks for the opportunity, and went home. As I walked in the door, my phone was ringing. On the other end of the telephone line the musical director told me, first, that I got the part, and second, the rehearsal times. This was unbelievable! My character was Four-Eyed Moe, who sang alongside five other characters: No Moe, Big Moe, Little Bitty Moe, Get Moe, and the dreamer, No Max. This was another great theater opportunity and experience. I saw myself singing but I forgot to see myself dancing. I was clearly the newbie in the ensemble, the one with the two left feet, but I helped the show to be a success.

A few weeks after the play ended, my office associate Alma asked me to sing “Always and Forever” at her wedding. I practiced and performed the song as she asked. It went very well as the musicians gravitated to my song, and we finished the song very nicely. I did not try to mimic the unique sound of the original presentation, but I did add my own twist at the end. I appreciated when a young lady standing along the wall said I could sing for her anytime. I smiled and thanked her, because I felt good enough at this point that I could incorporate vocals into a speaking career. I decided to work hard at building my confidence and skill level. I have been working harder to be better ever since.

When I left the military, I learned about a music workshop hosted by jazz master Dr. Harold McKinney from a musician and former high school student. The workshop was held weekly at the Detroit SerNgeti ballroom on Woodward Avenue. I was very appreciative of the information, and I went down and introduced myself to him. At the time, Dr. McKinney was recovering from major surgery, and the workshop was his way of giving back to the community. I began attending the workshop, and Dr. McKinney and his assistant, Gloria, helped my voice and confidence go to another level. I learned about the musical and cultural differences between singing from the diaphragm and singing from the throat.

During the same time, I also worked with a voice coach at Marygrove College named Kim Streby. Kim was an opera vocalist and taught from an opera background. We worked well together. In celebration of Detroit’s 300th birthday in June 2001, Kim and I put together a musical show at Marygrove College in conjunction with the many other events scheduled around the city. Unfortunately, we did not attract a huge crowd, but we gave a wonderful performance. My family helped me put on the show, and I was pumped. I knew I was on my way up the ladder. Although I grew on R&B, jazz, movie themes and Broadway stage songs, I would have loved to be an opera singer. It is powerful music and I continued to train in it.

A few weeks earlier, I’d tried to get Dr. McKinney to participate in the show, but with no luck. He, too, was working to host a showcase at the SerNgeti, which he expected his students to participate in. I was one of those students, but I did not have the opportunity to prepare myself to perform between my eight-hour teaching job and my own show. I attended the showcase at SerNgeti, and I remember Dr. McKinney telling the crowd that there was another talent in the room that day who should have been on the stage but wasn’t. I assume he was speaking of me because he was looking in my direction when he spoke. I appreciate that he thought I had talent.

After our show ended at Marygrove College, I could not wait to see Dr. McKinney at the next practice session and give him the good news. I gathered up my family for the drive home. I was ecstatic as I drove north on Livernois Avenue toward 8 Mile Road. As I passed the famous Baker’s Keyboard Lounge located on the right-hand side of the street, I noticed a billboard that read “Rest in Peace, Jazz Master, Harold McKinney”. This was unbelievable. I read that Dr. McKinney had slipped into a coma and died the previous day. He was gone, and perhaps my career as a vocalist was too. But I kept my aspirations and developed a live radio jazz recording at the Jazz Café at Music Hall hosted by Judy Adams and a music video titled, “Rah! Rah! détroit!/Michigan Morn”.

My confidence level was growing. In early July 2001, I represented the Michigan Chapter of speakers at the national convention in Dallas, Texas. I was a bit nervous, of course. On the plane, I spotted a prominent female chapter member who owned and operated a booking agency. She was also heading to the convention with her lovely daughter. She elected to let her daughter ride in first class while she rode in coach. I knew her only slightly from the chapter meetings, but I had begun to learn that marketing your skills every chance you get is part of being successful. The plane had taken off and then leveled off above 30,000 feet. I practiced my drop-dead song and mustered enough nerve to go back to the rear of the cabin to sing for her, even though the flight attendants had just begun to serve. I had to treat this awkward opportunity as an audition. I saw myself singing, so I got down on one knee in the middle of the aisle and sang “The Twelfth of Never”. The people in the vicinity seemed to enjoy my performance. When we arrived in Dallas, we shared public transportation to our separate lodging, and I serenaded the ladies as we rode along. It was an opportunity to perform and what I learned was that I can carry a note even at 30,000 feet. I did much better with my serenade in the sky than I did representing the chapter with my talk at the convention. A few short weeks later, the horrible destruction on 9/11 unfolded in New York City ending any encore performances in the aisle of an airplane at 30,000 feet.

I love baseball and I began attending the Detroit Tigers Baseball Fantasy Camp in Lakeland, Florida in 2003. Each year, I would perform the national anthem at the celebrity game at Joker Marchant Stadium. I wanted to be the first ever to sing the national anthem and then immediately come up to the plate after the words “play ball” and hit a home run over the left-field fence. Once I was introduced as a camper, I would peel off from the other campers and head for the back of home plate to await my introduction as the singer of the national anthem. I would use those few minutes during the player introduction to prepare myself to sing.

At the celebrity game, there is a nice crowd of a hundred people or more, and I thought I did a good job each year. However, one year the performance did not go so well after my coach, a television broadcaster and former Detroit Tiger called me out of my trance to ask a question about some team business. I answered the question but I lost my silent preparation time. I started the first two lines and forgot the third. Luckily, I turned and saw radio broadcaster and a female executive for the Detroit Tigers, singing in key, and as a result, I recovered from the blankness and I finish up nicely. When I left the field, I told the camp director that I’d had an equipment malfunction, like Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. My coach did redeem himself with some fine hitting tips in later years.

On Sunday May 22, 2005, I had the opportunity to sing the national anthem at Comerica Park in Detroit. The game featured the Detroit Tigers against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This had to be destiny, because I got the call on Friday night and the next day my good neighbor gave me four first-class infield box tickets right behind home plate, so I took my wife and two of my daughters.

There were 23,124 fans in attendance, and yes, I was nervous. I was met by the club representative who chuckled when I provided him with my lengthy introduction. In reflection, it was a little bit over the top. With that out of the way, we walked under the stadium stands down in what I call the “Aretha Franklin Room” or the celebrity room to practice before I went out onto the field. Yes, I was still nervous, but I was prepared. The weather was beautiful leading up to game time, but suddenly the sky opened with a downpour of rain just minutes before I was supposed to begin. The rain caused the game to be delayed three hours and fourteen minutes. How do you like that? My big chance and it was literally raining on my parade. What should I do, forget about it and just go home? I spotted Detroit Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski pacing about. I knew I had to be patient and professional. If I packed up my voice and left, I would never get a chance to sing for the Detroit Tigers again, so I waited the three hours and fourteen minutes, and I went out there onto the field and gave them the best performance I could give. Afterward, I sat in my comfortable seat and was swamped by autograph-seekers. I saw myself being successful in my performance, and I was. This was ironic, because more than thirty-five years ago, I was sitting in the bleachers of Tiger Stadium in solitude and despair. But today, as baseball’s Bob Uecker would sum it up, “I am in the front row” a 180-degree turnaround from sitting in the bleachers in despair to singing to the crowd at home plate with pride.

Wayne Rudolph Davidson aka Way-nee Dee
Still My Nature:
More Tales of Love from the Great American Songbook

Working with a Band that can Play

The current project “Still My Nature” is an extension of the first release “Its’ My Nature” and its theme of Tales of Love from the Great American Songbook. The album is a romantic recital of jazz, popular and Broadway songs. The new release “Still My Nature” continues with More Tales of Love from the Great American Songbook as its theme packs a little more heat presented in the medleys and classical piano because of the skill level of my band “Never Too Late!” The band makeup is that Detroit area musicians who have been friends throughout the popularity of jazz and all have the DNA of the Motown sound. The band’s name “Never Too Late!” infers that it is never too late for me to take my melodious vocal style to another level and join a group of musicians with a celebrated portfolio as executive producer and kick out good music.

The album is filled with diverse music from different era all enhanced by superior production. The foundation genre of the band comes from their rich jazz heritage that is parallel to the Rhythm & Blues and Soul first learned at Detroit Southwestern High School years before. Under the vision of Producer Francisco (Frank) Garcia II, Detroit music legend and musicologist, along with the music director, his brother and fellow Detroit artist, Dennis Maurice (Reecy) Garcia helped the band to bring their unique experience and special techniques, such as “call and response” bantering that takes place between instruments creates a special sound to both familiar songs and material not previously on their playlist: Wichita Lineman, That’s Life and None but the Lonely Heart. As the vocalist, I have always enjoyed the evolution of jazz, showtunes and operas performed in the classic backdrops of the 20th century. It was quite natural for this second album to present more tales of love from the Great American Songbook recorded at Rust Belt Studio and Terry Herald Studio in the Detroit Metropolitan Area.

The Greek language recognizes four diverse ways as to how the word, love, can be used. In the Ancient Greek, those diverse ways are identified by four distinct words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Agápe or Agape is generally defined as the love of God for man and of man for God; Éros or Eros is generally defined as the intimacy of lovers fueled by sexual passion; Philía or Philía is generally defined as an exchange of love between brothers, family, friends, or activities and passion for another; Storgē or Storgē is generally defined as a natural affection of love for country or even a favorite sports team. The niche audience for this music is broad as the themes of love songs in this album are conveyed through different genres; jazz, R&B and Soul, Country and Classical. You can pick what Greek form is associated with the song you like.

1. Agent Double-O-Soul, Charles Edwin Hatcher (Edwin Starr) & Bill Sharpley Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Espionage is on the rise. There is always potential for mayhem in the game of love but our hero “Double-O-Soul” in the name of brotherly love aims to save the day. This version of the song, Agent Double-O-Soul, is another thrill ride in the lifestyle of the “James Bond” fictional character fightin’ and lovin’ girls around the globe during the Cold War Era to the extent that the meek could only dream about adventure. In the new millennium, it is the elusiveness of the “Jason Bourne” fictional character who has lost his way we are all fascinated by. This song was also the first of an exhaustive list of popular hits by Edwin Starr, ranking number 25 on the US pop charts and number 8 on the R&B charts. This is an important song for several members of the band “Never Too Late!” as they were mentored by musicians of the original recording group in the mid-1960s heavily influenced by improvisation in the Motown sound. Be aware this veteran band is on the attack and this jam session brought to a crescendo led by the solo swagger of tenor saxophone master, Skeeter C. R. Shelton, and the vigorous percussion performances of Frank Garcia II and Richard Simpson.

2. Medley Uno: My Funny Valentine, Lorenz Hart & Richard Rodgers IMAGEM Music Inc.; & Embraceable You, Music George Gershwin & Lyrics Ira Gershwin
The album opens with classic ballads that speak to special relationships. Let's cuddle in a secluded hideaway and feel the evolution of jazz. My Funny Valentine was a 1937 show tune that became a popular jazz standard. This song is Number 6 on the greatest list of jazz’s vocal standards. The song has been covered by many artists but it is the version of Chet Baker featured in the Gerry Mulligan Quartet that was inducted with honor into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry in 2015. Way-nee Dee’s approach was to perform this song a capella followed by piano, violin and standup bass that help breathe mystic into the songs. Now stay cuddled, the segue of the medley into another stage song performed in 1928 that also became a jazz standard, Embraceable You. George Gershwin wrote the music and his brother Ira Gershwin wrote the lyrics. This song is Number 56 on the list of Greatest Jazz Vocals standards put there by distinct vocal performances, like Sarah Vaughn and Nat King Cole. However, it is Billie Holiday’s 1944 version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2005.

3. Wichita Lineman, Jimmy Webb, Universal Music Publishing Group
It is tough working on a lonely stretch of country lane and yearning for the love a woman, whose voice is heard somewhere through a hard wire telephone pole or a wireless network by a working man. This 1968 country and popular song was written by Jimmy Webb and performed by country music star Glen Campbell. The song was listed on the U.S. pop chart, Top 100, for 15 weeks reaching Number 3 and was atop of the American country music chart and the adult contemporary chart for several weeks. The song, also, did exceptional well in Canada and the United Kingdom. In addition, this song is universal and is listed as Number 195 on Rolling Stones magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Everybody can get lonely as noted in the soulful presentation by The Dells in 1969. This rendition goes well beyond its country-and-western roots. It is the floating guitar riffs, of another Detroit favorite Randy Catchings and the exceptional horn arrangement of Maurice (Reecy) Garcia that wails and ascends against the whine to ignite the violin of Pittsburg native Mike Saxon into top-flight toward the stratosphere in a yearning cry of lonesomeness.

4. Medley Dos: You Go to My Head, J. Fred Coots & Haven Gillespie, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC; Warner/Chappell Music, Inc; Memory Lane Music Group & Serenade in Blue, Mack Gordon & Harry Warren, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
These melodies are comprised of romantic music tones with hypnotized and quotable lyrics that emanate from the bandstand to that special person. Again, in the evolution of jazz, You Go to My Head was a 1938 torch song that became a hypnotic and popular jazz standard. The song has been covered by many artists to include Billie Holiday, later Marlene Dietrich’s nocturne rendition. This song registered as Number 76 on the list of jazz vocal standards considered to be great. The medley transitions to a song from the Big Band Era. Serenade in Blue is a strolling song in which a question of love is being asked. The song has been covered by the bands and orchestras with Glenn Miller’s version reaching number 2 on the Billboards pop singles chart in 1942. The voice, piano, violin and standup bass croon to capture a musical time gone by in both tunes.

5. Open the Door to Your Heart, Darrell Banks & Donnie Elbert, Universal Music Publishing Group; Carlin America Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC
The love proposition here was turned up a notch. The pace is picked when you climb aboard the emotional rollercoaster found in this remake of a R&B classic, Open the Door to Your Heart. It was hit record for Darrell Banks who died in 1970. The record reached number 2 on the R&B charts and number 27 on the US pop charts in 1966. This was another important song for members of the band “Never Too Late!” as several members knew and worked with the original artist, Darrell Banks, during the late-1960s. Richard Simpson’s tight drum set, Frank Garcia’s funky bass guitar, Maurice (Reecy) Garcia’s imposing baritone sax, in addition, another Detroit artist Gregory (Frog) King’s throbbing solo alto sax performance allows us to remember another beloved artist gone too soon.

6. Sometimes a Man, John Blair, Jazz Musician International Production, Inc.
It is inevitable man makes mistakes. The love interest here was lost so from the perspective of an imposed exile or solitary confinement, a man reflects upon his faults and regrets the choices he made in relationship with his woman. This simple composition, Sometimes A Man, is a haunting jazz classic written and performed solo by violinist and guitarist John Blair in 1971. I first heard it in the 1970s on a Detroit jazz radio station heading out to the suburbs with my friend’s family. The essence of the song has stayed with me for many years. This rendition is filled with full orchestral accompaniment, to include, doo-wop background vocals. In affairs of the heart, Frank Garcia’s bass guitar is the pulse while Richard Simpson’s drums provides the pounding. Randall Catchings’ spurts of guitar provide an extra treat in the presentation of this song along with the tingling keyboard chords of blue collar Walter Blaney and Robert Jones, the wild card. The standout horn arrangement is accentuated by Maurice (Reecy) Garcia’s improvisational tenor sax solo conveys the excruciating pain of lost love previously expressed by the late John Blair. John Blair’s creativity also shines in the original version of the song as he invented the “vitar” a combination of the violin and guitar. Sadly, John Blair reportedly died in a state of homelessness in 2006.

7. Medley Tres: As Times Goes By, Herman Hupfeld 1931 WB Music Corp & (At)The End (of The Rainbow), Sid Jacobson & Jimmy Krondes 1958, Criterion Music Corp
A set of treasured melodies of love that convey realistic and painful message of “that is just the way it is, baby!” Aside from the melodrama, this final medley is comprised of As Times Goes By, a 1931 Broadway song that was voted No. 2 on the American Film Institute list of 100 songs after appearing in the 1942 film Casablanca sung by Dooley Wilson. It is also a jazz vocal standard and is still popular as many artists have covered it over the years. The medley shifts to a US Top 40 hit song of 1958 by army veteran Earl Grant, (At)The End (of The Rainbow) which also became very popular on the German music charts. Tragically, Earl Grant was killed in a traffic accident on Interstate 10 in Lordsburg, New Mexico traveling to his next gig in Juarez, Mexico in 1970. Another artist gone too soon on a stretch of highway I am familiar with from my own military days.

8. None but the Lonely Heart, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky & L.A. Mey
Love is lost once again. The classic experience of abandonment and the sadness that follows because she is gone and he pines. This melancholy song is written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and dedicated to Alina Khvostova, a Russian soprano and singing teacher. It was the last of a set of romances for voice and piano completed in 1869. A trio of vocal expression, the graceful piano touch of Alexandra Zetye and Michael Saxon’s tender violin adds color and flavor to the loneliness of Tchaikovsky’s loss.

9. That’s Life, Dean Kay & Kelly Gordon, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.; Universal Music Publishing Group; IMAGEM Music Inc.; Shapiro Bernstein & Co, Inc.
This song is relative, love is everywhere and it does not matter what happens I am going to get back up again. That is the essence of this 1963 traditional popular song written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon. It was recorded first by Marion Montgomery, and later by OC Smith. Of course, the most famous cover version was made by Frank Sinatra that reached Number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966. This lively rendition presents another standout horn arrangement, drums and bass guitar. Randall Catchings’ strum on lead guitar is invigorating in harmony with the keyboards variations of Walter Blaney and Robert Jones.

As previously mentioned, the first release “Its’ My Nature” Tales of Love from the Great American Songbook is an album of romantic recital of jazz, popular, Broadway and classic song of America. In its limited audience, it has received warm reviews.
It is Way-nee Dee and the band’s hope that we continue to play music that global audiences will enjoy listening to.

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